Helping Ontario farmers protect our water and lakes


Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Investments will improve the environment while increasing farm productivity

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing more than $2.5 million to help farmers improve environmental sustainability and water quality in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds. In addition to delivering on its continued commitment to protecting our environment, this investment will also improve productivity for farm operations in the region.

The Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS) initiative will support 235 farmer-led projects to be completed this year, targeted to improve soil health and reduce the risk of nutrient losses in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds. LEADS is a regionally targeted cost-share program funded under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership).

Now in its third year, these 235 LEADS projects build on the environmental successes achieved through the more than 500 on-farm projects completed in this key watershed area in the first years of the initiative.

LEADS-supported projects have helped reduce the risk of soil loss and soil nutrient loss and improved water quality in its target region through implementing a variety of best on-farm management practices. These have included planting cover crops, modifying equipment to reduce soil tillage, improved nutrient placement and the planting of vegetation to serve as windbreaks.

LEADS supports the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan and aligns with the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, committing to a 40 per cent reduction of phosphorus run off into Lake Erie and its watershed.

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed cost-share support to more than 2,500 projects through the Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.


“Our government continues to invest in the sustainability of our land and water, now and for the future. We know the importance of environmental and water stewardship to farmers and all Canadians and we are committed to supporting on-farm projects, such as LEADS activities, to further improve environmental sustainability and the health of our Great Lakes.”

– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“LEADS projects demonstrate our agricultural sector’s commitment to environmental stewardship and keeping our waterways clean for future generations. It’s another great example of what we can do when we work with the other levels of government and our agriculture partners to improve the environment and protect our natural resources.”

– Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

“Farmers in Ontario have been and continue to be stewards of the land. We want to continue to make a positive impact on the environment, the economy and our communities. Partnership programs like LEADS are important tools for achieving innovative and effective environmental outcomes.”

– Jan VanderHout, member of Environmental Collaboration Ontario (EcoAg)

Quick facts

  • LEADS is a five-year, $15.6 million commitment by the federal and provincial governments, available until March 2023, to help farmers take action to improve soil health and water quality in the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watershed areas.
  • The Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors.
  • The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 837,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $47.5 billion each year to the province’s economy.